I can imagine someone jabbing a finger at me and calling me a hypocrite for wanting parents to control their kids’ food intake and when/where they get to eat it. I suppose to a degree it is, but the key to having the family together for a good old meal is for everyone involved to WANT it, and this takes effort from all sides – much like the TCS model (Taking Children Seriously parenting model) it should be about coming to a mutual, pleasant agreement. It’s definitely beneficial, provided nobody involved is a total asshole. See, I went through this, and eventually it became a problem. My father was a complete asshole, and I’d do anything to avoid him at the dinner table, but I had no issue with my mother or sister or anyone else. Most parents I knew, single or otherwise, didn’t have a big issue with getting their kids to the dinner table. So obviously this is more a suggestion than me saying “parents should have the right to force their kids to the table”, but nonetheless I think my message is clear: it is possible for children to be fed far too much, and as with the McDonalds, it’s the PARENTS who are responsible for it. After all, remember not being allowed to leave your chair until you’ve cleared your plate? I do.
If I may go off on a tangent, that’s an interesting thing to analyse. The “don’t you leave until your plate is clean, mister!” attitude is not uncommon. But why? If it was for your child’s wellbeing, it’s unnecessary: he’d eat it if he was hungry, and would stop if it was too much. Much like with “adult rated” movies and such – if it was a problem for them, the kid wouldn’t watch it. The truth is that it’s about the adult demanding “respect.” However, fuck your respect, you don’t deserve it if you’re forcing a child to overeat, causing nausea, displeasure and weight issues! Besides, the issue is quite easily solved now. The food isn’t wasted, it’s called “left-overs” and it’s a great idea! Sometimes this means you don’t need to cook again the next day.
Now comes the hard bit. The question that one of the bloggers asked. Should we CARE if children are getting overweight? The answer is an unequivocal yes. This is where things get politically incorrect, because it’s an awful truth. Some people don’t want to hear this.
First and foremost, being grossly overweight isn’t fun. In and of itself, it’s annoying. It makes simple things far harder than you might imagine, even if you are yourself overweight! One fascinating little experiment that I’ve seen done many times is to find someone who has lost weight, or maybe someone of an average weight, and attach a weight-suit to them to bring their overall bodyweight up to obese levels. Without exception they’re stunned – the extra effort to do things like walk, climb stairs and more just blows their mind. This is assuming they don’t want to jump around, play physical games and just explore the 3-D space around their body: which children do, and adults often forget how much fun it is. Trust me, jungle gyms don’t lose their appeal.
This is a bigger issue than you might think. It’s horrible to be “grounded” and literally weighed down by your own body. Even if you think it doesn’t effect you, I would strongly recommend you question yourself honestly. Have you forgotten what it's like to move freely and energetically? Do you ever feel cramped and contained? Perhaps literally, as muscles either unused or strained become sore? Even still, if getting into and out of a car isn’t easy for you, then you have to at least concede there’s a problem there.
Secondly, it gives rise to other health issues. An excellent British television show (since Britain is probably worse than America with regards to obesity) used to explore this very well. Overweight people would volunteer, and these folks would come in to help and see what was wrong. In 100% of cases the problem was the person was at fault, with diets so horrible they beggared the imagination and almost no exercise to speak of; frankly this is almost always the case, but more interestingly was how secondary health issues were discovered. (I stress the "almost" again, by the way.)
These secondary issues are not what you’re thinking. I don’t just mean the heart problems. I mean fungal growth. Body-odour issues. Flatulence. Depression. Skin conditions. Scars from stretched skin. Urinary Tract Infections. Lethargy. Problems with bones and tendons. The list is massive. Technically these aren’t all consequences of being obese, but consequences of extremely poor diet and a lack of exercise, but that’s splitting hairs. The better way to think of it is that obesity and these other symptoms are just that: symptoms of a bad diet and exercise routine. It’s one and the same. Though, that said, at one point in my life I was quite overweight and suffered some other issues – after losing weight merely by mild alterations to my diet, smaller portion sizes and exercise, all the issues vanished. A lot of it IS linked directly to being overweight.
The problem with discussing this is the assumption that it’s “shallow” to insist that someone’s weight be average. No, insisting that someone looks like a skinny supermodel might be, though honestly to my way of thinking AND actual experience in the school system here in Australia, that’s actually the norm for children leading healthy lives with healthy diets. But nonetheless, I don’t give a shit if you want to be overweight. Both of my parents are. Some of my closest friends are. I don’t have a problem “looking at you”, Jesus, cut the paranoid self-justifying bullshit, guys!
You see, I’m only discussing childhood obesity here, not being merely a little overweight. Now, if we were talking about being merely a little overweight, I can understand this bloggers comment when she asks why people are concerned about children not meeting society’s “ideal appearance” for them. But we’re not. That’s not the issue. We’re not talking about them not “looking the way we want them to.” We’re discussing obesity. But this is honestly, no offense intended, an example of the ignorance and social isolation of Americans: nobody has ever denied that obesity is a dire, significant health danger. How could someone confuse shallow insistence on an aesthetic ideal with genuine concern for health!? I doubt you'd see many Germans asking that question. If society wasn’t concerned about it, I’d be concerned for society.
Now, since this is a furry website, I feel compelled to say this. I am appalled at the portrayal of older “cubs” with “baby-fat” or generally being overweight. I understand it is merely fantasy and a drawing, after all I’m not trying to force anyone to ban this, but the sexualization of childhood obesity or fatness is just as disgusting as the sexualization and objectification as sexualizing adult anorexics or obese people. Yes, people, it’s just as bad to idealize fatness as it is to idealize skinny Megan Fox-esque models. In fact, you have to ask which one is the least healthy (hint: if you think Megan Fox is unhealthy, you're probably a little stupid).
That's what appalls me about it. The hypocrisy is just painful. What's wrong with having an average or normal build? Stop choosing from between Megan Fox and Dawn fucking French -- and then bitching ignorantly about how wrong the other side is!!
Oh, and ten year olds don’t have baby-fat. A fat ten year old is called “fat.” And there's nothing wrong with that.*
(See, I told you I'd get back to offending people.) *Seriously, just don't call it baby-fat.